Ovarian cancer is the second most common cause of female reproductive cancer. In 2010 22,000 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and almost 14,000 died from their disease. In most cases by the time the diagnosis has been made, the disease is in an advanced stage, with maybe a 30% chance of surviving 5 years, even with the best treatment available.
Our profession has been struggling for years to find a way to detect ovarian cancer in the early stage where there is greater than a 90% 5-year survival.
The CA-125 blood test has been available for many years, but has long been known to be very inaccurate, especially in pre-menopausal women. Many other conditions can lead to elevated levels of CA-125 which then might lead to unnecessary surgery. On the other hand, ovarian cancer can still be present even with a normal level of CA-125.
Routine vaginal ultrasound has been studied in low-risk and high-risk groups. So far, the data do not show an acceptable rate of early detection due to the high number of false positive diagnoses. Many women have positive findings on vaginal ultrasound, but there is not a reliable way to determine if this findings are harmless and will resolve on their own or if thet are suspicious for cancer and thus warrant exploratory surgery.
A new test called the OVA1® may prove to be helpful. OVA1® is the first blood test cleared to help a physician evaluate the likelihood that an ovarian adnexal mass is malignant or benign prior to a planned surgery.
The OVA1® can help determine ahead of time the chance that an ovarian adnexal mass is malignant, help the ob/gyn doctor identify patients who might need referral to gynecologic oncologists and might lead to improved patient outcomes.